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Morality has been a question studied by philosophers for thousands of years and for a number of reasons. In many cases, it is considered the foundation of the most profound religions in the world and the premise upon which laws of great societies are based. From Plato to Ayn Rand, the question of what is right and wrong and how we determine it has puzzled great thinkers. For example, Aristotle discussed morality in the light of knowledge, reason and emotion. Conversely, Kant argued that morality was independent of our feelings: an a priori imperative that we had a duty to follow. The divergent views of these two renowned philosophers illustrate two distinct ways the argument of morality has developed. The differences start with their basic definition of morality and the arguments continue to deviate as they discuss the impact of human nature on morality. It is at that point where their principle precepts of morality are tested with human action that Kant's theory falls apart and Aristotle's is shown as increasingly valid. Because of this, it becomes clear that Kant's theory of morality is inherently flawed while Aristotle's theory encompasses the subjective and emotional elements associated with morality and thus is the better argument.
Consider civilizations in general: billions of people have lived their lives, created art and devastation, reproduced and killed. Whether the decisions to do so were made rationally or irrationally, or the consequences of the acts were good or bad, the decisions were made and the acts happened. Unless we begin to question reality or the validity of our perceptions, it would be difficult to argue with any of that. The arguments begin with the judgment of the act or the consequence. Take the statement: those men should not have flown their planes into the World Trade Center. Is it a judgment of the validity of the decision the men made to crash the planes? Or is it the result of a consideration of the consequences of the act of invasion? The concept of morality attempts to answer those questions.
A morally good person is a person that does moral things. This deceptively simple statement highlights the important questions of morality: is morality relative to the person or the act? Kant argued that the question of what is moral is derived from a priori knowledge, it is a categorical imperative and "neither its authority, nor its power to motivate us, is derived from anything but itself."1 This universal imperative holds true for all rational beings and it is our duty as rational beings to act in accordance with it.
This argument, though interesting in its historical context is invalid. When Kant was working on his Critique of Pure Reason there were two dominating schools of thought: the empiricists and the rationalists. Empiricism held that all knowledge is gained through
Names mentioned in this term paper
Kant, Aristotle, Ayn Rand,
Facility mentioned in this paper
World Trade Center,
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